What happens to a mural when its context is destroyed?

By Balthazar Malevolent


The Norwegian government has begun to tear down the Y-Block building in Oslo, Norway, featuring Pablo Picasso's massive murals. The government building had been damaged by the rightwing extremist Anders Breivik in the 2011 terrorist attack. The government announced plans in 2014 to relocate both of the concrete murals and to demolish the building itself as part of a massive rebuilding project. The decision has since caused an outcry on the part of preservationists, campaigners and politicians. Even the New York's Museum of Modern Art has joined the battle to save the murals, urging officials to "reconsider the demolition decision approval."

Picasso murals ripped from Olso building.

The Norwegian government began deconstruction of the landmark Y Building on Monday. The 250-ton sandblasted façade design called The Fishermen and the 60-ton lobby piece called The Seagull were stored on site while the building was being torn down. In the new modern building, which is expected to be completed by 2025, those will be finally installed. As it's been noted by a representative of the Norwegian Directorate for Public Construction and Property, about five demonstrators protested against the demolition in person on Tuesday.

Olso's School of Architecture and Design's professor of architectural history and theory Mari Hvattum, told Artnet News that demolition is "a massive mistake" and that "the relocation of Picasso's artworks will do nothing to rectify this mistake." Those who condemn the demolition of the building and the removal of the site-specific works believe that murals will not have the same significance if they are separated from the original environment. Those who support the demolition say it's for the site's safety, which is directly on top of a traffic tunnel.

*Back in February, officials from the Norwegian government approved the demolition of the Y-Block building in central Oslo featuring two murals by Pablo Picasso and the Norwegian artist Carl Neja.

In other news, Rick Owens isn't into doing anything halfway. The Paris-based California-born designer is known for some of the most controversial and envelope-pushing concepts in the fashion industry, with runway shows to suit. Yet Spring/Summer 2021 "PHLEGETHON" is another matter. The line, closely lensed by Owens himself, is a selection of repurposed pieces from the previous collections of Owens, accompanied by new designs and concepts.

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